The European Union said it was too soon to consider imposing sanctions on Russia for the bombing of rebel-held areas of Syria, while maintaining the threat of action if Vladimir Putin doesn’t back down.
After the first of two days of talks in Brussels, EU leaders said “all available options” remain on the table, without mentioning sanctions specifically, after they clashed over using more pointed language on Thursday. While the U.K., France and Germany wanted to take a harsher tone with Russia, Italy’s Matteo Renzi led those countries who opposed the move.
Russia’s aggression in Syria has brought its relationship with the west to a new low. With ties already worse than at any time since the Cold War because of Putin’s annexation of Crimea and violent interference in eastern Ukraine, the Kremlin’s support of the Syrian regime has raised tensions further and exposed divisions in the EU.
“It’s clear that Russia’s strategy is to weaken the EU — we have no illusions,” the bloc’s president, Donald Tusk, told reporters early Friday. “Increasing tensions with Russia is not our aim; we are simply reacting to steps taken by Russia.”
The EU has added progressively tougher sanctions on Russia since March 2014 for its involvement in Ukraine, including broad economic restrictions as well as travel bans and asset freezes on individuals and companies. While leaders were not planning to make any decisive steps toward additional sanctions at the summit, the final communique represents a watering down of more specific threats contained in their draft text.
European Council president Donald Tusk is not to be confused with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, who probably agrees with Tusk anyway.
Since every nation has to agree to more sanctions, Italy is more than sufficient to kill the idea.
Tusk says ““It’s clear that Russia’s strategy is to weaken the EU — we have no illusions.”
Irony abounds. Pray tell, what the heck are sanctions on Russia other than a blatant attempt to weaken Russia? And who started this sanction mess?
To find the key hypocrites, all Tusk and Juncker have to do is look in the mirror.
Let’s now return to the Brexit debate for a second. The EU insists that for a “soft Brexit” the UK must abide by four demands.
- The free movement of goods.
- The free movement of services and freedom of establishment.
- The free movement of persons (and citizenship), including free movement of workers.
- The free movement of capital.
Germany is one of the biggest offenders of points number two and three.
After 18 months of study, $2,200 in tuition and three exams, Ewa Feix is now permitted by German law to bake two variations of cupcakes.
“Not pretzels, not Black Forest gâteau, not bread,” said Ms. Feix, a Canadian who moved to Germany in 2009. Becoming a professional bread baker entails a three-year apprenticeship and more exams.
Germany’s thicket of rules and standards shields roughly 150 professions from competition, from ski instructors to well-diggers. Stiff fines await uncertified practitioners. German authorities conduct thousands of enforcement raids each year.
Strong middle-class support, particularly among Chancellor Angela Merkel’s supporters, means the German system has defied repeated attempts at reform.
Merkel’s Blatant Hypocrisy
Consider a refugee from Syria who knows how to bake goods. Also consider a baker from France who wants to setup a bakery in Germany. They need a separate apprenticeship for bread, pretzels, and cupcakes.
What the heck are those inane rules other than a direct attempt to prevent freedom of movement of people, services, and businesses?
Add Merkel and Germany to the list of the world’s biggest hypocrites when it comes to free movement of goods and workers in the EU.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock